We call upon the federal government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, churches, Aboriginal communities, former residential school students, and current landowners to develop and implement strategies and procedures for the ongoing identification, documentation, maintenance, commemoration, and protection of residential school cemeteries or other sites at which residential school children were buried. This is to include the provision of appropriate memorial ceremonies and commemorative markers to honour the deceased children

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusJune 14, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previois StatusMarch 31, 2021NOT STARTED

Why “In Progress”?

June 6, 2021: Toronto Star – The Missionary of Oblates of Mary Immaculate “says it will disclose all historical documents in its possession… They operated 48 schools in Canada, including the Marieval IRS and the Kamloops IRS…In the statement, the Oblates said the work is not complete because of complications with provincial and national privacy laws. The federal government released $27M in unused funding from a $33.8M budget allocations for Calls to Action # 72 and 73 in Budget 2019 to assist communities in the search for additional graves. There are no specifics identifying what the government is doing, with whom, by when, with what budget and with what expected – and realistic – outcomes

Stakeholder Commitments to Preserving Residential School Cemeteries

Alberta

Red Deer Indian Industrial School
Oct. 13, 2019 – Founded in 1892, considered one of the most atrocious examples of the suffering, abuse and neglect rampant in the Canada’s residential school system, the school operated until 1918. The school was plagued by widespread disease, a defective sanitation system that led to further contamination and illness, overcrowding and one of the highest mortality rates of any such school in Canada. About 350 children attended the school. (Toronto Star – Edmonton)

Confirmed GravesEstimated Graves
2050 – 70

July 27, 2020 – A UCalgary researcher is working with a number of partners across Canada to develop a strategy for digitally archiving the physical structures of the few remaining residential schools in Alberta. Two former provincial residential schools — Old Sun Community College and University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills — will be digitally captured by Blackfoot and Cree students working with University of Calgary researchers in archaeology (Dawson), computer science (Dr. Faramarz Samavati, PhD) and geomatics engineering (Dr. Derek Lichti, PhD).

Saskatchewan

Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS)
July 26, 2017 – (RIIS) Cemetery has been designated a Provincial Heritage Property.  The cemetery grounds contain the graves of approximately 35 children from First Nations and Métis communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba who died while attending the school.

Aug. 14, 2018 – A monument to commemorate and honour those who died while attending the Regina Indian Industrial School (RIIS) over 100 years ago was unveiled today. “This plaque is a permanent feature to commemorate the children who passed while attending the school, and acknowledges the impact residential schools had on Saskatchewan peoples and communities.”

Confirmed Graves
35

Muskowekwan Residential School
Feb. 5, 2019: University of Alberta – A Métis archeologist at the University of Alberta working with the Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan may have discovered graves of missing children from the nearby residential school that closed in 1997. “In the records there were 35 children who were unaccounted for, that disappear off the records, and nobody quite knows what happened,” said Kisha Supernant. operated from 1889 to 1997 and stands on the land of the Muskowekwan First Nation, which is trying to save the deteriorating building—one of the last standing residential school buildings in Western Canada—to turn it into a museum.

Confirmed Graves
35

May 31, 2021: Saskatoon Star Phoenix – The Federation of Sovereign Indian Nations and the province issued a joint statement calling on the federal government “to immediately commence research on undocumented deaths and burials in residential schools in Saskatchewan, including radar ground search at residential school sites.” Initial sites identified to be investigated by radar ground search are:

  • Onion Lake St. Anthony’s IRS
  • Beauval IRS
  • Guy Hill IRS
  • Lebret IRS
  • Sturgeon Landing IRS

With an estimated 20 federal residential schools operated in Saskatchewan, meaningful reconciliation in our province must include research into the estimated hundreds of children that did not return home after attending these institutions, including radar ground search,” Premier Scott Moe said.

Manitoba

Brandon Indian Residential School
Aug. 28, 2018 – Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs wants the city of Brandon to protect the unmarked graves that are now part of a RV campsite.

June 10, 2021: APTN – The Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba is partnered with the University of Windsor, Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Brandon University for the Brandon Residential Schools Cemeteries Project. “While employing archeological survey techniques, geophysical technologies, survival recounts and archival documents, our investigation has identified 104 potential graves in all three cemeteries, and that only 78 are accountable through cemetery and burial records,” she said.

Confirmed Graves
51

Official Federal Government Response: “Modified” on June 11, 2021 – but nothing changed from Sept, 5, 2019

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has begun discussions with various partners, internal and external to the federal government, towards collaborating on an engagement strategy to gain a better understanding of the range of Indigenous family and community needs and interests and about how best to move forward in a comprehensive manner on all of the calls to actions regarding children who died or went missing while attending Indian residential schools (Calls to Action 72 to 76).